Jake Frost shares his family's favorite way to spark energetic mealtime chats and promote family bonding.
Let’s get conversant with conversation, chit-chat, and all of that. Because banter has been a subject of discourse in our home lyceum over the years. You see, we have four kids aged six to eleven and sometimes our bubbling pot of babble can boil over. Like a delicately balanced Tilt-a-Whirl, as our dinnertime conversation spins away it can occasionally teeter on the edge of chaos. The kids have great energy, enthusiasm, and imagination, all of which is wonderful. Generally fun and frivolity prevail, well spiced with zany exuberance.
However, those same qualities can occasionally lead our fast flying Tilt-A-Whirl of gab to wobble. When it does, we’ve found a surprising solution to set things a-right again: conversation cards.
The cards were a surprise because I’d never heard of them, and didn’t know anything about them, when we received a set of Our Moments Family conversation-starter cards as a gift. They’ve been great for us.
The Our Moments set that we received set is just one of many different brands of conversation cards made for families with kids. Each card has a question to prompt a conversation, such as asking for a favorite memory about a particular holiday. Many of the available sets from various manufacturers look good, and we’ll be trying several more of them, because we’ve gone through the whole Our Moments set that we have about five times already and it’s getting to be time for us to branch out into some new cards and questions.
The reason we’ve gone through them so many times is that everyone loves them. They’re great for salvaging a conversation when it’s jumped the tracks, and for introducing new topics when the table talk feels like it’s been stuck in a rut for a few nights, but the cards are also just plain fun. Often when we’re sitting down to dinner the kids will say, “Give us a card, Dad!” and I’ll reach for the box, which I keep close to the table where I can grab it without even getting up from my chair — that’s how often we use them.
As we eat, I’ll read a question from a card, and then we go around the table taking turns answering it. The answers lead to discussion and encourage a lot of sharing and storytelling, and prompt thoughts that might otherwise go unthunk. Depending on the cards we draw, one to three usually fill a whole dinner, including the lingering time after the meal is over when a collection of some of the kids will stay to continue the conversation.
I love that: chatting with my kids over a cup of coffee (for me) or glass of milk (for them), relaxing and talking together. Life is good.
Since the cards have been a happy surprise for me, I thought I’d share the idea in case it might be helpful to others. I’m always hoping family dinnertime will be a celebration, a loving cap to our day, when we all come together to enjoy and be grateful that we have food, a roof over our heads, and each other. These cards have been a help for us in trying to engender that spirit of celebration and gratitude. Good luck, and may your dinner courses and accompanying discourses be delightful!
Copyright 2021 Jake Frost
Images (top to bottom): Canva Pro; copyright 2021 Jake Frost, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Jake Frost is an attorney, husband, and father of four grade-school aged kids. He’s the author of five books: Catholic Dad: (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; Catholic Dad 2: More (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; From Dust to Stars: Poems by Jake Frost; Victory! Poems by Jake Frost; and a children’s book he also illustrated called The Happy Jar.